Douglaston Chairman Jeff Levine: Builder And Humanitarian
Douglaston Development chairman Jeff Levine has a lot on his plate. But that’s nothing new for him.
You may know Jeff (shown above in Israel) as the developer behind two of the most transformative multifamily projects on the Williamsburg waterfront: The Edge, which first opened in 2012, and 1 North 4th St, currently the tallest building in the neighborhood, which opened last year.
But there’s a lot more to Jeff. He serves as national president of the Jewish National Fund, a post he’s held since 2013. In 1998, Jeff helped found the New York State Association for Affordable Housing, the trade organization for the state’s affordable housing industry. He still serves as a board member. He serves on the board of St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children. He was also founder of the Kimmel Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to providing housing for the aged, handicapped and special needs populations.
Jeff (shown above with family at the JNF national conference in Chicago last year) has seen his hometown go through a whirlwind of change in his four decades in real estate.
These days, NYC’s among the most attractive places in the world to invest in real estate, but Jeff recognizes that prosperity can have strings attached. As a developer of both affordable and market-rate housing, he’s intimately aware of both the benefits and hazards of an increasingly expensive city.
“Unless we can build a city where everyone can live and thrive,” he tells us, “New York won’t be the melting pot it’s always been.”
Jeff used his expertise as a developer in late '90s to develop Renaissance Plaza, a mixed-use development in Central Harlem that includes 241 co-op apartments that were priced affordably when they went to market. The project also includes 60k SF of retail in an area that in those days needed a boost at street level.
He tells us that seeing those tangible results that had a real impact on a community was among the most gratifying moments of his career as a developer.
Jeff is being honored with the year’s Kenneth R. Gerrety Humanitarian Award at the 120th annual REBNY Banquet next week. He’s in good company; past recipients have included luminaries like Larry Silverstein, Jerry Speyer and Douglas Durst.